SurveyCTO Glossary

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appearance (field property)

Used to define a special appearance or behavior for a field. Also used to apply a field plug-in.


billing cycle

Period of time until billing resets, and payment is owed for the SurveyCTO server. Each billing cycle is one month, and starts from when a server is upgraded to a paid subscription. If you started using SurveyCTO before upgrading (e.g. trial period), the billing cycle is different from the usage cycle. (support article)

blank form

A form that has not yet been filled out, and is ready to be filled out by an enumerator.


calculation (field property)

An expression that defines the value of the field. A simple example of a calculation would be:


But nearly all calculations use field references and functions, like this:


Usually used with calculate and calculate_here fields, but can also be used in visible fields to define a dynamic default value.


Sampling unit of the case management workflow. Depending on the use case, a case can be a single household, farm, business, individual, or another respondent that will be assigned a form or a series of form.

case management

System of organizing cases so it is easier to fill out and manage forms for each case, and also keep track of data related to a case.

cases dataset

Server dataset where each row is a case that will be used for case management.

Other names: case management server dataset

choice list

Collection of options that can be used and selected in select_one and select_multiple fields. In a form definition spreadsheet, choice lists are defined on the choices sheet.

choice_filter (field property)

Expression that specifies which choices in a choice list should be shown. (documentation, support article)

constraint (field property)

Restriction that the field value must meet before the enumerator or respondent can move on. (documentation, support article)

constraint message (field property)

Message displayed when the constraint expression is not met, but the enumerator attempts to move forward in the form.

CSV file

Short for "comma-separated values", a file type that can store data in rows and columns, similar to a spreadsheet, but in a more universal format. A CSV file can be attached to a form for pre-loading, uploaded to a server dataset to provide it with data, or you can export your data in CSV format. (support article)

Other names: .csv file


Data Explorer

SurveyCTO built-in data monitoring tool for data analysis. Used for creating and viewing charts and graphs, viewing the data for individual submissions, and using the review and correction workflow. (documentation)

dataset publishing

The process of automatically updating a server dataset with data submitted by a form.

default (field property)

Value given to the field when it first appears. For a dynamic default value, use a calculation. (documentation)

disabled (field property)

If this property has a value of yes or 1, then the field will not be included in the form, and it will not be read during the form upload and data export. This can be helpful when you would like to temporarily remove a field without completely deleting it.



Converting data to an unreadable format until it is converted back using the correct private key. Recommended for maximum data security. (documentation)


Person who conducts the interview and fills out the form.


A formula that performs an operation or a series of operations, and is evaluated by the form for use in field property. Expressions can use operators (+, -, *, div, mod), functions, field references, numbers, and more to determine a value. Many field properties use expressions. (documentation)



An individual point of data entry in a form. They can be visible fields where data is entered manually, or hidden fields where data is generated automatically, unseen when filling out the form.

field mapping

The definition of which fields should publish to which columns of a dataset, either a SurveyCTO server dataset for dataset publishing, or a third-party dataset such as in Google Sheets.

field name (field property)

Unique identifier of the field. Used during data exports to identify each field.

field property

Series of attributes used to specify the appearance and behavior of a field. Defined by the form designer.

field reference

Used to retrieve the current value of a field. A field reference is defined by using the name of a field in dollar-sign-curly-braces like ${this}, which will return the value of the field. Useful for displaying the value of a field in a different field label, and for using the field value in expressions.

field type (field property)

Defines the input of the field, both the type of input it allows (e.g. whether it only allows numbers or not), or how data is entered by the enumerator (e.g. selecting a choice vs. typing in data).

field value

Data stored by a field, determined while filling out the form. For visible fields, the field value is usually entered by the enumerator, and for hidden fields, the value is calculated by the form automatically.

finalized form

Form instance that has been marked as "finalized", meaning it is ready to be submitted to the server. A form cannot be finalized until all relevant, visible fields that are required have a value, and all constraints have been met.


A collection of fields that are filled out for the purpose of data collection. The form is filled out, and then submitted to the server.

form instance

A form that has been started by an enumerator, and possibly completed.

form version

Uploaded instance of a form design that is different from other instances of that form design with the same form ID. All previously deployed versions of a form can be downloaded from the Design tab of the server console until they are manually deleted. Form versions can identified by their version number.


A pre-built instruction used to enhance expressions and make them easier to set up. They start with the name of the function, followed by a left parenthesis, followed by function parameters (values used by the function to determine a result), followed by a right parenthesis. A list of all functions can be found in our documentation on using expressions.



A collection of fields defined by the form designer so they will share a trait, such as a relevance expression or repeat_count. There are two types of groups: repeat groups and non-repeating groups. When working in a form definition spreadsheet, a repeat group will start with a row with type begin repeat, and end with a row with type end repeat; and a non-repeating group starts with a row with the type begin group, and ends with a row with the type end group. (documentation)


hidden field

Field that is not displayed to the enumerator, instead determining its value in the background of the form. Its value can still be displayed to the enumerator later in a visible field.

hint (field property)

Secondary visible part of the field, shown in smaller text beneath the field label. Used to give more information about what kind of data should be collected.


label (field property)

Main visible part of the field, explaining to the enumerator what kind of data should be collected. Usually a question to ask the respondent, such as, "What is your name?".


media:image, media:audio, and media:video (field property)

The name of a media file that will be seen or played in that field. (documentation)

mediatype (field property)

Used by file fields to define which MIME types are accepted. If an enumerator attempts to upload a file to that file field that does not have a MIME type specified in that list, then it will not be accepted by the field. (documentation)

minimum_seconds (field property)

The minimum number of seconds an enumerator should spend on a field before moving on. Another field in the form can be set up to keep track of the speed violations, which you can learn more about in our documentation on speed violations. The minimum_seconds can be enforced using the Enforce minimum times for fields settings in the Admin Settings, so enumerators cannot move forward until they spend the minimum number of seconds on the field. (documentation, section Speed limits)


note (field property)

Internal notes for form designers that will not be in the actual form.


online form designer

Online tool used to create a form. (documentation, video)



Retrieving and preparing a set of data that has been attached to a form so the data can be used in the form.

private key

Encryption key used to decrypt data, converting encrypted data back to a readable format. Because it can make encrypted data readable, it should only be shared with those who are allowed to read the data.

public key

Encryption key used to convert data to make it unreadable. The public key is one-sided, so it can only be used to encrypt data, and it cannot be used to decrypt (un-encrypt) data. Because of this, the public key is safe to share with anyone.

publishable (field property)

If the form is encrypted, if a field has a publishable value of 1 or yes, then the field will not be encrypted. Fields in encrypted forms that are not explicitly marked publishable will be encrypted. Helpful for data publishing, such as publishing data to a server dataset. (documentation)


read only (field property)

Whether the value of the field can be changed. If this property has a value of yes or an expression that evaluates to "true", then the field value cannot be changed.

relevance (field property)

Expression that determines whether or not the field should appear in the form. You can customize the relevance expression so the field only appears under certain circumstances, based on the values of other field. (documentation, support article)

repeat_count (field property)

How many times a repeat group should repeat. This can be a number or an expression. If it is blank, then the repeat group will ask if the enumerator would like to add another repeat instance at the end of the repeat group. In a spreadsheet form definition, can only be used in begin repeat rows. (documentation)

required (field property)

Whether the field needs a value before the enumerator can move on and submit the form. If this property has a value of yes or an expression that evaluates to "true", then the field will be required; otherwise, the field will still appear in the form (unlike relevance), but it can be skipped. (documentation)

required message (field property)

Message displayed to the enumerator when and a field is required and has no value, and they attempt to move forward in the form.


Subject of the form. Usually gives answers to questions asked by the enumerator.

response_note (field property)

Used when printing PDF versions of your form to create an input area for written responses. (documentation)


Service where HTTP requsts are sent using URIs to interact with an application. In SurveyCTO, the REST API can be used to programmatically download form and dataset data. (documentation) (For a more technical explanation, check out this page.)

Other names: API


server console

Online tool accessed over the web to manage your server, allowing you to add forms, download data, manage users, and more. Accessed by going to the URL [servername] (e.g.

server dataset

Data stored on the server in rows and columns. A server dataset can be attached to a form for pre-loading, and data can be published from a form to a server dataset. (documentation)


Using a third-party service (such as Google) to sign into SurveyCTO. So, instead of having multiple sets of credentials, there is a "single" service you use to "sign on", where you can use a third-party service to sign into SurveyCTO, instead of needing to set up a new password. (documentation)

Other names: SSO

spreadsheet form definition

Spreadsheet that defines all aspects of the form to be filled out, such as fields, groups, choices, and more. The form designer can create an entire form using a form definition spreadsheet. (support article)

Other names: form definition spreadsheet, excel form definition


A form instance that has been sent by the collection device, and successfully received by the server.

submission credit

Allocated credit that determines how many submissions can be sent to a server (or team). There are both monthly submission credits that reset each usage cycle, as well as extra submission credits that can be purchased. (Further reading: submission, counted submissions, extra submission credits)

SurveyCTO Collect

Mobile application used to fill out forms in both online and offline settings. Available for Android and iOS. (documentation)

SurveyCTO Desktop

Application for desktop computers used to easily download data and form attachments. Can also be used as a local server to submit data while on a local network. (documentation)

SurveyCTO server

Central repository of all forms and data. SurveyCTO Collect and web forms retrieve blank forms from the server, and submit finalized forms to the server.

Other names: server



A SurveyCTO billing unit that allows for restricted user access to specific forms. See the FAQ for details.


SurveyCTO purchase unit that reflects the monthly usage of teams. Team-months credits are used to pay for each teams-month. For example, a server with no teams, considered a "single-teams server", would use one teams-month credit per month. On the other hand, a three-teams server would require three teams-month credits per month. (about teams, subscription pricing)

Other names: team month


usage cycle

Period of time tracking the server usage of submissions, storage, and other data. At the end of each usage month, monthly submission credits reset. Each usage cycle is one month. Can be different from the billing cycle. (support article)


Short for "universally unique identifier", the identifier of a specific form instance. Each form instance will be randomly assigned a uuid that is unique not just to other submissions for the same form, but all SurveyCTO submissions. When exporting data, the uuid will be in the KEY column.

Other names: key


version (form property)

Unique identifier of the form version. Must be numeric, and lexically greater than the old version. Learn more in our support article on the settings sheet, term version.

visible field

Field that is displayed to the enumerator as they fill out the form.


web form

Form filled out using a web browser. (documentation, more resources)


Tool for sending data to other web services. (documentation)


A data report containing a collection of field summaries, relationship summaries, and more in the Data Explorer. Each form has a default workbook, and you can add additional workbooks with different field summaries and relationship summaries. (documentation)


The data flow of a data collection project, which consists in a connected system of forms, data, and/or other tools.. A workflow can simply involve filling out forms and downloading their data, but it can also involve a connected system of forms publishing their data to server datasets where that data is later pre-loaded by other forms, as well as other tools such as Stata and Zapier.


An independent area connected to a single SurveyCTO server. A workspace can have its own blank forms, filled-out forms, and cases that are not accessible from other workspaces on the same device. Both SurveyCTO Collect and SurveyCTO Desktop can have multiple workspaces.

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